Or – “So, I Don’t Know If You’ve Heard About This…”

Mutants, mind-control, and the wedding of the year.  It’s the Major Spoilers review of Astonishing X-Men #51!

Writer: Majorie Liu
Penciler: Mike Perkins
Inker(s): Perkins w/Andrew Hennessy
Colorist(s): Andy Troy, Jim Charalampidis & Rachell Rosenberg
Letterer(s): VC’s Caramagna, Petit & Cowles
Editor: Jeanine Schaefer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Astonishing X-Men:  In the wake of the Schism, Wolverine and Cyclops have parted ways, with each trying to run the X-Men the way he sees fit.  To that end, Wolverine has created a new team, featuring Iceman, Gambit, Northstar, Cecilia Reyes, Karma and someone called Warbird into a cohesive unit.  Things have been a little bit hectic of late, but adding to the chaos is Northstar’s proposal to his partner Kyle, a proposal to which Kyle said no.  The day got worse, though, as Northstar not only had to fight his teammates, but also a mind-controlled Kyle!  (This is why Superman keeps his identity secret, folks.)


The issue opens on the morning of a wedding, even though Kyle said “NO!” last issue, and to the creative teams credit, they don’t play the “Will they or won’t they?” card, something that would be especially obnoxious given that the solicitations for this issue have been a talking point for a couple of months now.  The scenes of the wedding are intercut with Ted telling the kids how he met Northstar the end of last issue’s cliffhanger, and there’s some nice character work at play in both portions of the story.  In a lovely touch, writer Marjorie Liu doesn’t forget about Northstar’s history or his other team/family, as the members of Alpha Flight play roles in the story, and there’s a completely adorable moment between Jean-Paul and his twin sister Jeanne-Marie which is both incredibly touching and true-to-life, as she irritates the hell out of him on the day of his wedding.  There are literally dozens of cameos throughout the book, and I appreciate the fact that the creative team is willing to admit that Northstar’s same-gender marriage is an issue, with one teammate refusing to attend and even self-described “progressive guy” Puck having to expand his horizons accordingly…


There isn’t a lot of action to be had here, save for a little bit at the beginning and a last-page shock that many people have been waiting to see for years.  On the art front, this is a good-looking issue, with a couple of sequences bordering on poetic (notably the moment of the kiss is very well-handle) but I’m troubled by the fact that Storm and Wolverine seem much older than I expect them to.  Facial expressions especially seem to be problematic throughout the issue, and there are a number of cameos by people that I’m sure I should recognize, but I don’t.  (Whether that’s the fault of the art or of my boundaries is, at this moment, unclear.)  The folding of ongoing plot (Is Karma going bug$&@ crazy?) in is acceptable enough, and Liu clearly has a handle on the fact that X-Men is, historically, the story of people who talk funny having feelings and punching one another repeatedly, delivering a nice classic Claremont vibe and hitting the right notes with the wedding.


Reviewing an x-book is always difficult for me, as I have a fear of getting involved in a story and having it disappear into crossover madness or evaporate (X-Factor, X-Statix, Joss Whedon’s run on this very title), leaving me with nothing but Iceman and Rogue.  Treating Northstar as a character with history, bringing in his family AND Kyle’s, addressing the strangeness of mutants and the attendees’ questions about a gay wedding all leads to a book that could have been talky and boring.  That bullet was dodged, though I’m not sure that I’ll be back to find out what happens next issue with Karma and all, this is an enjoyable enough reading experience.  Astonishing X-Men #51 is a commendable act by Marvel, one that I hope leads to a higher profile for Northstar (an under-used and great character in Marvel’s vast library), earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★½☆


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. It does go to show how we as a society have progressed, since never once has the fact that this is also an INTER-RACIAL relationship enter the current controversy.

    Good for comicdom.

    • Very good point there. While I am not on the side of supporting gay marriage (as I hold marriage to be a religious sacrament under the Christian definition) I don’t have a problem with gays and lesbians having their unions recognized as a legal civil union nor commitment ceremonies. Regardless of that such an event should be held with some dignity and it seems that this one was (with the usual super-powered threat or incident, of course). In reading the more recent comics that have tried to be “controversial” (ie, advertised to the nth degree) I keep my own views but look at the characters in very realistic situations. The main city that actually welcomed mutants (before Summers went all Magneto) was San Francisco, which has been the “gay/lesbian” center of the US since the 60’s. That some mutants (who writers have used to represent feared or disenfranchised groups since Stan Lee first introduced them in the 60’s) would have strong feelings on another mutant being in a gay “marriage” is an interesting look at how confused and conflicted many in the US today are on the issue. For a group of people that were born out of the fear and mistrust of those who were “different” it makes for an interesting read. Was it worth all the “hype” and hooplah? It was OK but there’s too much going on in the story to really make it more than simply another “event” at Marvel. Besides that, Apollo and Midnighter had already tied the knot sometime ago in the now rebooted Wildstorm comics.

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